From Fr Sean
In our Disneyfied society, where sentiment always trumps reality, for people of faith the resurrection has become the ultimate happy ending. But Covid-19 has so rudely interrupted our sentiment and scrupulously shattered it that we may wonder if there can ever be a happy ending at all.
When we began our Lenten journey in what now appears another life, but in reality less than forty days ago, I mused on my childhood experience of Lent and what it has become today. Back then each year I conscientiously made my resolution – giving up crisps became a favourite I recall, after a fast from sugar in tea was so successful I haven’t needed that particular sweet-rush since – but there was always the sense of doing this together as part of a particular community. As those networks have fallen apart in my lifetime so have these practices. For priests it means overcoming
the excusable inertia of “do as I say not as I do”, but even then the solo effort is much more likely to be centred on self-improvement than conversion. It’s easier to focus on losing weight or cutting down on alcohol with a target that can be measured, rather than dealing with the messy complexity of where I stand with God.
I am aware of the danger of nostalgia, but at least the common endeavour of the past ensured that Lent never simply became part of the self-help industry. When I asked you what are you (the People of God together) doing for Lent, none of us could have imagined that our journey would have taken us on an enforced collective Lenten Lockdown, and not just for our Church, but all humanity. Perhaps you may usually breathe a sigh of relief when Easter Day comes round, but this particular Lent is no respecter of liturgical seasons and will extend way beyond forty days with no end in sight. Of course, forty is only a symbolic number and Easter Day is just another day like any other. The virus shrives humanity in a pitiless and indiscriminate fashion, and resurrection will only come when humanity creates a vaccine: our Lent mercifully offers us the opportunity to lay aside our mendacity and expose our truthful self, so that resurrection, far from being our happy ending, becomes God’s vital gift to keep living whatever the day and whatever the deepest darkness.
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